Well, what you will think of this will probably depend on your opinion of the Huffington Post. But even so – if it is true that all this external pressure was exerted on the U.S. election, it represents the first public experience of network warfare and the questions it raises. Like are there actually “sides” in the injection of false and incendiary information into social media? Is it The Russians (oops they have capitalized the definite article again after all these years!), or is it ultra right wing domestic groups doing business with hackers in Eastern Europe? Or both, and maybe terrorists who have found a cheap way to do damage without blowing anyone up.
If the U.S. election can be nudged by covert or even overt manipulation of social media, what about other countries? What about the upcoming election in France? And Germany when Angela Merkel steps-down? Are there any borders in this kind of war where the weapon is communication of “alternate facts”, whether on Facebook or in an interview with CNN or Fox or whoever?
Imagine a not-too-distant future where people are employed full-time to simply adhere to a certain ideology, a very specific list of approved opinions , and that’s their only job.
Is the organization of these operations so decentralized that it boils down to rogue hackers and “enemy” nations and unscrupulous politicians? Will it sort-out over time into interest groups willing to believe whatever their micro-constituency wants to believe, with members cutting across geographic, political, and even social boundaries?
Has it ultimately become a matter of marketing strategy to decide democratic contests? Will a handful of specialist marketers create receptive social communities to gather people together by their special interest?
Can they use media, and nothing but media in whatever form to unify these groups behind their charismatic or shiny personality/image/cult they are selling? Will the larger or just more effective interest groups gain control of politically meaningless but economically powerful geographic continuities called “France” or “Germany” or “United States” or “Croatia” or “Greece” or whatever?
Imagine a not-too-distant future where people are employed full-time to simply adhere to a certain ideology, a very specific list of approved opinions , and that’s their only job. People who are popular in social media become mini-celebrities within their opinion group, and so there is intense bidding going-on for the services of popular opinion pushers who are essentially Trumpesque “reality TV” personalities 24-hours a day, live-dumped to the network.
In the future will power be acclaimed to whoever is trending? Is that the corner we have turned in the era of flash politics – where it doesn’t matter what you say as long as it distracts the media and interest groups from what you are, or worse maybe aren’t doing. Trump seems to think as long as he dominates the public discourse, with no matter what kind of unhinged drivel to constantly generate interest and keep the attention on himself, he can control everyone and everything. The gamble is he can put it across for four seasons, with a possible renewal for four more?
How long was he on “The Apprentice”?